Dave Farrar predicts the Nerazzurri will come out on top in the Derby della Madonnina as he previews this weekend's Serie A matches...
Ibra not enough to stop Inter
Inter v Milan Sunday, 19:45 Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
The Derby Della Madonnina has often been a game which has gone a long way to deciding which of the Milan clubs wins the Serie A title, and while that isn't the case here, Antonio Conte and Inter badly need a victory to keep pace with Juventus and Lazio at the top of the table.
Inter's win against Udinese last weekend was strangely significant. They'd drawn 5 of 7 in Serie A, come through a tough Coppa Italia quarter final against Fiorentina in midweek, and I thought that they might struggle. After a difficult first half, though, they came on strong in the second and won relatively easily. It felt clinical, and Inter haven't been clinical for a while.
Last autumn, this game would have been a gimme for Inter, but Milan have improved significantly under Stefano Pioli, winning 5 of their last 6 in all competitions, only drawing at home against Verona last time.
Much has been made of the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and he returns from flu here, which will be a boost for the Rossoneri, but the truth is that Inter are overpriced at2.02 to win. Of course, the draw is a possibility given the amount of games that Inter fail to kill off, but they may just have learned that lesson, and it's worth reminding ourselves that they've lost only one game all season, at home against Juventus.
Antonio Conte has never lost against Milan in his coaching career, I expect that run to continue, and think that Inter represent a bit of value here, even with Lautaro Martinez suspended and Samir Handanovic probably injured.
Milan's recent run has been impressive, but it has been achieved largely against Serie A's lower lights (with respect to Cagliari), and they step up a couple of levels here. Inter won the reverse fixture comfortably, and I expect them to do so again.
Hellas hard to beat
Verona v Juventus Saturday, 19:45 Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
Should Hellas Verona beat Juventus this weekend, they could move as high as sixth in the table, and the feeling that they might be the team to come on strong in the second half of the season and challenge for the Europa League has grown after two impressive draws this week.
First Ivan Juric's team went to Milan and stopped their winning run, playing out the game with ten men, and then they headed to high-scoring Lazio and blunted them, doing this weekend's opponents Juventus a large favour in the process.
We know what Juric will do against Juventus, and I think that they could give the Champions a scare. Verona are ferociously well organised, excellent defensively, and while Iwon't be backing them at 8.20 to pull off a win, the Under 2.5 Goals market is an interesting one.
In recent weeks, Juventus have been guilty of playing at too slow a tempo, of failing to stretch teams, and if they're in that mood here then they'll struggle to score, even with this week's birthday boy Cristiano Ronaldo in red hot form.
My feeling is that Juve will edge this, but it will be tense and not much of a spectacle. Verona may be tired after working so hard in midweek, but they'll push Juventus all the way, and while I'm tempted by them with a goal start on the Asian Handicap, I'll settle for backing Under 2.5 Goals at around1.98.
Lazio a lock at the Tardini
Parma v Lazio Sunday, 17:00 Live on Premier Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
Lazio looked likely to jump above Inter into second place in Serie A when they played Verona in midweek, but fluffed their lines and now face a crucial game at Parma, one that they have to win to keep up the belief that this could yet be their unlikely year.
With Sergej Milinkovic-Savic suspended alongside Stefan Radu, and Joaquin Correa unavailable, this may look like a dangerous fixture for Lazio, but Parma have major issues of their own, and all sense tells us that this should be a comfortable win for Simone Inzaghi's side.
I'm trying to work out how Parma are going to offer an attacking threat. All of their recognised strikers are either injured or unavailable, including the top class Dejan Kulusevski, and there is going to be a large element of making do and mending here for Roberto D'Aversa. New signing Gianluca Caprari, a Number 10 rather than a centre-forward, will definitely start, but Lazio should be good enough to contain him.
It's tempting to feel that if Lazio score, they'll win this, and while it may end up being more complicated than that, they should be far too good for a Parma team who may just be wondering where the next goal is coming from. I appreciate that the price isn't too sexy, but it looks solid.